AEOS places to go to farmers with conservation area
Farmers who do not have a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Area (SPA) on their land are expected to lose out on places in the watered-down AEOS scheme.
Demand for AEOS places is likely to outstrip the number available by 2:1, with some 15,000 farmers expected to apply.
With the budget slashed from €50m to €25m and a €1,000 reduction in the maximum payment per farmer, it looks increasingly likely that demand from SAC and SPA farmers could be enough to account for all available places.
At a maximum payment of €4,000 per farmer, the €25m budget for 2011 would only allow 6,250 farmers into the scheme this year, but not every farmer will reach the maximum payment.
Agricultural consultants estimate that the average payment per farmer in 2011 will be closer to €3,100-3,500 per farmer, with 7,000-8,000 farmers entering the scheme.
Given that there are more than 20,000 farmers with SACs on their land, the chances of a farmer securing a place in the AEOS without an SAC or SPA designation are extremely slim.
The farm organisations have described the scaled-back 2011 AEOS scheme as having serious shortcomings.